December 18, 2014 - Read the full Your Mark on the World article and watch the interview here: http://bit.ly/1xrzzWW.
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It doesn’t take a PhD in economics to appreciate that the countries of West Africa impacted most by Ebola are not able to prosper with that added weight. The effect of Ebola on the impoverished nations in the region will prove devastating to hundreds of thousands not directly impacted by Ebola if more help isn’t provided, according to Action Against Hunger CEO Andrea Tamburini.
He says, “Partly due to fear of contracting Ebola or being associated with the disease, residents of Sierra Leone have ceased seeking help for malnutrition. Action Against Hunger has identified a 66% decline in new admissions to Peripheral Health Units and a 90% decline to Stabilization Centers in Western Area from July through Sept. of 2014.”
To put a sense of scale to the discussion, he notes, “At least 700,000 people will join the more than 5 million people already at risk of food insecurity in Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. It’s likely that the number of people exposed to undernutrition will reach levels not seen for five or six years.”
According to Andrea, the problems that lead to the crisis are varied, but include, “A shortage of manpower due to movement restrictions related to the Ebola outbreak. Farmers have abandoned their crops as they seek refuge in locations considered less exposed to the virus.
Road blocks manned by police and military are preventing the movement of farmers and laborers as well as the supply of goods. Single mothers have been particularly hit hard, as they have to provide meals to their families by themselves.”
Another issue, he notes, “A spike in food costs occurred due to closure of many border posts. Formal trade has been severely hampered, reducing availability and driving up prices in most sectors, particularly food. Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are grain-importing countries. Liberia, the country with the most people suffering from Ebola, is also the most dependent on external supplies.”
Action Against Hunger is working to address the problems, Andrea says:
“While the priority is to stop the epidemic, food plays a crucial role in maintaining the health of the people in the Ebola impacted countries.
Track food security of those producers and importers of grain.
Provide food, farming and economic aid.
We and other aid organizations have assessed areas of Sierra Leone. Critical steps call to provide: Seeds and planting materials; a broad feeding program for children under five and pregnant mothers, and longer term, cash for work program to shore up the economy and marketplace.”
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